Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Bounty

I worked with a wonderful woman during the early years of my marriage and parenting.  One year she told me that it was a Thanksgiving tradition in their family to have a Christmas ornament for each person who shared their holiday meal.  I immediately stole the idea and have presented ornaments to family and guests when we have been lucky enough to dine at home.

Wednesday during breakfast my middle son announced, "I can't wait to see what our ornaments are this year."  Heavens.  In the midst of the holiday card making and the school projects I had forgotten to get the ornaments.  I knew a quick trip to Hall's would be an easy solution; they have great ornaments and there was sure to be something for everyone.

While there I overheard another shopper saying, "This one's for Susie and this one's for Stacy and this one is for Bob and this is for what's-her-name."  "Excuse me?," said the clerk.  "Hurmph.  My daughter-in-law."  I'm quite sure the feeling is mutual.

So this year the eldest received boy's best friend, the middle, a turtle to commemorate his new pet and the youngest, a cupcake, because he is one and would live on sugar given the chance.  Mr. Blandings received a grill.  To say he was overjoyed would be an exaggeration.  He has never bought into the ornament obsession and feels sure we have enough.  And the other boxer?  A gift from my mother-in-law who would never call me "what's-her-name."  The feeling is entirely mutual.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

You're Doing It Wrong

A week or so ago I had a boy on the brink.  His brother had been fawned over and doted upon because of some stupid collarbone thing that could not be that bad as it did not even require anything cool like a cast.  Enough was enough so we took a mental health day.  He got to choose.  Anywhere he wanted.  And he chose the University of Kansas's Natural History Museum which holds all things to ignite a boy's imagination and soothe his soul.  Taxidermy, fossils and live critters all reside under its roof.  Boy heaven.

We had a great time.  No rushing.  His only frustration was my occasional lingering.  Puzzled, he came to see.  "What?"  "Look.  These signs are different; they're much older than the others.  Really look.  Someone hand lettered these signs and drew the pictures themselves.  No computer.  No font style.  No laser printer."

He's an artist by nature so it did give him pause.  "Mom.  We're supposed to be looking at the snakes."  


The Hon Lady Mosley, nee Hon Diana Mitford, with her husband Sir Oswald Mosley and their sons Max and Alexander.  And her grotto chair.

Image courtesy of Diana Mosley by Anne de Courcy.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mermaid Queen

I was quite charmed by Jennifer's post last week on past Hermes windows.  In particular, this 1989 window, "In Praise of Silk," bowled me over.  That grotto chair - divine!

The very same day my World of Interiors arrived and look!  Again!  Two!  This time Bill Sofield.  Fabulous.

I don't know why they captured my fancy so completely.  I had posted this set, above, from George Cukor's home featured in Architectural Digest, January, 1978.

And Roger Lussier's Boston apartment from House & Garden, December, 1989.

Here you can see its saucy arm in the bottom corner of the image.

When I went on the hunt, however, they were more elusive than I had anticipated.  Ms. Weastler used them with great aplomb in the sleek setting above.  They are quite dramatic juxtaposed with the spare and linear marble fireplace.

No surprise, Amy Fine Collins came through just as a girl would hope.  A little lucite, a little animal print, and, yes, a gilded grotto chair.

There are a few available at 1st dibs right now, including the beauty above.  Seems odd that I would be as equally entranced with grotto chairs as I am with the killer klismos.  As I am just wishing and not buying I guess I don't need to decide.  Curious.  Cash in hand, which would it be?  Heavens, I do hope there's enough for both.

Kelly Wearstler's work appears in Rooms to Inspire by Annie Kelly; photographs by Tim Street-Porter, who also deserves credit for the Gambrel room I posted in haste last Thursday.

Amy Fine Collins's apartment was captured by Simon Upton; it originally appeared in Elle Decor, but can be instantly enjoyed in So Chic, edited by Margaret Russell.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I Hate to Say I Told You So...

but I told you so.

Hello, Mr. Gambrel, I've been missing you a bit.  Don't you miss this quintessential American designer in the December issue of World of Interiors.  For those of you who haunt his web site, these rooms will not be new, but how nice to see them on the page.

Also, a stunning layout on a Bill Sofield Manhattan apartment.  Since spotting the grotto chair on the Peak of Chic today I could not shake the image.  Then look, not one, but two here.

The issue also features a wonderful profile on Rose Cumming and lots and lots of good stuff besides.  This magazine is a splurge, but completely worth every penny.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Speaking of Dogs

Last month Courtney Barnes and Jennifer Dwyer were featured in Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles.  When Courtney posted the image of the cover I thought, "Hey, that's Roxy!"

The small sculpture on the end table is by Tom Corbin, a Kansas City artist.  Corbin lives not far from me and I have the pleasure of running into his lovely wife quite often.  On occasion she has their Standard Poodle, Roxy, with her.  They have a wonderful piece, "Woman Walking," in their garden and Rosie and I admire her on our walks.

I then spied another Corbin piece in Southern Accents November/December issue.  While I've singled out the smaller pieces, much of Corbin's work is quite large, in fact, life sized.

Still, I have a weakness for the smaller works.  The study, Girl with Purse II, is my current crush.  To see more of Corbin's work tick here; he is widely represented throughout the states including Holly Hunt in both Chicago and New York and Jerry Pair in Atlanta.

A bit of trivia, though I have never seen it, I know many of you are fans of the interiors in the film A Perfect Murder.  Apparently one of Corbin's pieces was used in the sets.  That's my kind of "I spy."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Going (Back) To The Dogs

I could not get these hounds out of my head.  They had stopped me in my tracks outside of Christopher Filley's last week.  That paw of he of sleeker coat, draped casually over the base.  Heavens.

This noble pair had a place of honor in the window Friday as the shops stayed open late.

"Fiske!" said Christopher, "Signed!"  

And with some local provenance, too.  These pups supposedly graced the Busche estate while still a private residence.

It was a lively evening and I hated to turn Christopher into my professor, so I did not admit my lack of knowledge.  I came home to google instead.

J. W. Fiske was a New York company which produced garden ornament, fountains, vases, urns and figures from iron and zinc in the mid to late 19th century.

Fiske did not own their own foundries, so they contracted out much of the actual production of the pieces.  Their work was based on classical forms and often copied historical works.

Seems there was a bit of "inspiration" which flowed both ways.  Some folks borrowed from Fiske; Fiske was inspired by the work of others himself.  Patent schmatent.

Regardless of who borrowed from whom, Fiske was then, and continues to be, regarded as one of the leaders in the field.  Many of Fiske's pieces are marked with the company name, location, date and often, patent number.

Extensive catalogues were published and can be found on-line.

Interesting.  So, now I know a little bit, a tiny bit more.  Then, today, while going back through my file of vintage tear sheets I ran across this.  (By the way, the file is a higgledy-piggledy mess, one large file with neither rhythm nor reason.  I was searching for the missing page of yesterday's post in hopes of being able to identify its date.) 

An image from House & Garden, September, 1987, from the Long Island home of decorative painter Richard Lowell Neas.  This dog, with one paw tucked and one out-stretched is paper mache, but so familiar.  Huh.  Funny.

Then, while still looking, I had to stop and flip through an old favorite.  Just one more visit to Albert Hadley's Connecticut home from House & Garden (also no date as I am hopeless.)  Look, another dog.  Weird.  Could it be Fiske as well?  Unidentified, darn.

And then the flip of a few more pages.  This is a most delightful image of Hadley at the front door.  Notice the faithful friend bottom right.  Clearly, I have no idea if this is a Fiske piece, but he bears a striking resemblance to Christopher's new acquisitions.

Post script: My editor from Spaces just emailed to tell me that Richard Lowell Neas is from Kansas City.  I knew you'd want to know.

Images of additional Fiske pieces,;  Neas photograph by Jacques Dirand; Hadley photographs by one of my favorite interior photographers, Oberto Gili.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Econ 101

Uncertain economic times can make one anxious.  Fortunately, good design does not depend on your pocketbook.

In this vintage layout from House Beautiful, the editors highlighted several designers who rose to the challenge of the Royal Oak Foundation (the American arm of the National Trust of England)  "to prove that good design can work within budgetary restraints."

The three images, above, are Katie Ridder and Peter Pennoyer.  Ridder was committed to lavender toile and after a good, long hunt settled on this Manuel Canovas.  Hmmm... Canovas is not usually so easy on the pocket book, but the designers chose inexpensive upholstery and reproductions to stay within the guidelines.

Mariette Himes Gomez designed the space above and below.

The article mentions her preference for things "strong and gentle, plain and fancy."  It does not mention how she kept the design from overwhelming her budget, but the simple, textured fabrics could be had for a reasonable amount.  In addition, the mirrored tiles over the fireplace make a big statement without breaking the bank.

Stephen Sils and James Huniford focused their seating area on the center of the room for this parlor.

Today, curtains out of the box via chain retailers might take the sting out of this more elaborate window covering.

And, hello, Ms. Moss.  Who knew Charlotte Moss could design on a dime? 

Yet, she did, using inexpensive green corduroy for the curtains.

And last, but certainly not least, David Easton created this smashing space and did share his tricks.  Easton used a favorite beige and white stripe, this one a from a discount fabric store, to hide the flaws of the room.  He used masonite painted to look like patinated bronze to create the fireplace surround.

Cork tile for the floors proved inexpensive and sound absorbing.  The kitchenette can be hidden by the curtains.  Easton did use his own English antiques as a nod to the foundation.  A wonderful idea if you can get your designer to go for it.

Photography by Antoine Bootz.  Sadly, I have not retained the entire article and did not note the date.  Darn.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Off the Rack

Speaking of blue and white, this room is turning the whole concept around for me.  The introduction of black into the mix is making me look at this classic combination in a whole new way.  And I am oh-so-loving the horn stool.  Christopher Filley had three the last time I was there.  Give him a ring at 816-668-9974.

Image, above, Madeline Weinrib's SoHo apartment, Elle Decor, December 2008, photography by Simon Upton.  This issue is equally as strong as the November issue, which, in my mind was nearly perfect.  If you don't subscribe, do pick it up.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


When Mr. Blandings was right out of school he moved to Colorado for a year to ski.  One of his go-to stories recounts standing in a ski lift line and the guy running it had his ball cap on sideways.  Another guy standing in line said, "Dude, hat's on sideways."  The lift operator paused and responded, "Dude, s'pose to be."  Over the years it has become our code for pointing out something we feel the other person should recognize as painfully obvious.   Eventually, all either of us needed to say was, "Dude."

This is a banner on a current design magazine.